Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pressure Heats Up On Whirlpool

(emphasis added)
Sat., April 26
In the Whirlpool company newspaper (Herald-Palladium) there's a photo of the following:

Executive Director Mike Green (left) introduces U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, during a Harbor Habitat for Humanity construction kickoff celebration Friday on Crystal Avenue in Benton Township. (Luke Gronneberg / Herald-Palladium staff)

[remember when Whirlpool VP Jeff Noel advised the U of Mich. Business School recently that if you're in a community where the peace and justice groups are on your back, all you have to do to get their land, etc. is appease them somehow - like bring in Habitat for Humanity to build some houses and donate some appliances. Then you get what you want. He actually said this, or a paraphrase of it! And Granholm is on his team! Rev. Edward Pinkney is not, and look where it got him...]

Sat. April 26
More comments sought on park plan ["park plan" word usage diminishes importance of what's going on. our guess is that the commission will say no to Mr. Marsh.]

City manager wants to extend comment period by 14 days
By WILLIAM F. AST III Herald-Palladium
Benton Harbor City Manager Richard Marsh on Monday will ask the City Commission for a 14-day extension of the public comment period on the conversion and mitigation proposal for Jean Klock Park for the Harbor Shores project.
The public comment period was to have ended next Friday. Marsh said the request, if granted, will extend the period until May 17.
In an e-mail press release Friday, Marsh wrote: "This request stems from input from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service. To ensure all residents have access to the conversion plan, the city is working to post the information on its Web site."
Marsh could not be reached Friday night for additional comment. And he may have a selling job to do on Monday night, judging by one city commissioner's views.
"We already took the posi tion that we were not going to extend the time, and I support that," said 4th Ward Commis sioner Rahim Abdullah. "We've had plenty of time, as far as I'm concerned."
Abdullah added: "If the full body supports it, I will too, and it depends what the reason is. I'm pretty sure my col leagues haven't changed their minds."
The public comment period is on a revised conversion and mitigation proposal for the park.
The National Park Service has veto power over converting part of the park to three holes of an 18-hole Jack Nick laus Signature golf course, be cause federal money was used to improve the park years ago. Harbor Shores officials said an extension would be fine with them. [they can say that when they know their BH commission stooges will deny it]
"We are confident that more local dialogue will encourage positive support, which will accelerate the National Park Service's review of the proj ect," Wendy Dant Chesser, Harbor Shores trustee and president and chief executive officer of Cornerstone Alliance, wrote in a press release in response to Marsh's re lease.
"Throughout the public comment period we have worked closely with the city of Benton Harbor to share in formation and answer inquiries from the residents of the community," Chesser wrote.
"This public comment period has given us an excellent opportunity to educate the entire community on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." [yes, it only takes a once-in-a-lifetime gigantic destructive development to exterminate wildlife, animals, beach, land, and a community forever]
In the same release with Chesser were comments from Marcus Robinson, Har bor Shores trustee and president and CEO of Citizens for Progressive Change. [the same Mr. Robinson who got his job without an interview....]
"This is still the same great project with the same great opportunities," he said. "The facts speak for themselves, and I look forward to more citizen engagement."
What critics are saying:
Opponents of the project took a less favorable view of the extension request.
"That's better than nothing, but not enough," said Carol Drake of Friends of Jean Klock Park.
"It takes a lot of re-reading of this (plan) to absorb and understand it. ... This thing is so complicated, so technical, that it takes several readings, and the people of Benton Harbor don't have access to it."
For example, one part says if the developers change the use from a golf course, they have to notify the city within 30 days, Drake said.
"What does that mean? Can they change it from a golf course to residential? It is so deep, so hard, so thick," she said.
The Friends organization is holding meetings from 2 to 5 p.m. today at Benton Har bor City Hall and from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Benton Harbor Public Library for people who want to submit comments, but "don't know where to start," Drake said.
LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of Defense of Place, a park advocacy organization, said in a press release earlier this week that there have been numerous citizen requests to post project docu­ments online and extend the deadline by 60 days.
Friends of Jean Klock Park has posted the documents on its Web site at­, Kozma said. People should send written comments to the city manager by certified mail, with copies to both the DNR and the National Park Service, she said. But [But? Sure makes it sound like the HPalladium is rooting for HShores] Harbor Shores offi cials said they've done much over the past six weeks to get information to the pub lic.
That includes offering project area bus tours that already have attracted more than 1,000 people, posting signs for a self-guided driving tour of the site, making presentations to organizations and distributing more than 75 videos on the proj ect.
Officials said people can see the details of the project by going to the Harbor Shores Web site at www.har
The development aims to revitalize the area with the Jack Nicklaus golf course that would become the catalyst for $400 million in residential and commercial development.
Harbor Shores developers say the three proposed holes in Jean Klock Park are key to the entire project, but that's where much of the disagree ment comes as critics oppose using the park for the golf course.
The golf course is expect ed to be the magnet for the development, which is to include two hotels, 800 hous ing units and other construction on 530 acres in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Major environmental cleanup has taken place in preparation, and officials say the development over the years is expected to create jobs and increase the tax base.
Harbor Shores is a cooper ative venture of three non profit organizations – the Alli ance for World-Class Communities, Cornerstone Alliance and Whirlpool Foundation – and the cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Benton Township, Berrien County, and the state. [all under Whirlpool control]